Chipotle Joins The Penniless Change Charge

So it turns out that some busy locations of burrito chain Chipotle* was rounding to the nearest nickel. Good for them. But apparently some people complained, so now they only round down, so people don’t complain that Chipotle “cheated” them out of a trifling amount of money. Seriously? Chipotle isn’t the cheapest burrito around to begin with, so after you’ve dropped eight dollars on a burrito and a soft drink, do you really care about the value of two pennies? I say, good for you, Chipotle. Phase out the penny!

* Burrito with cilantro-lime rice, no beans, fajita veggies, chicken, a little medium salsa, a little corn salsa, cheese, and sometimes sour cream, if you must know. I do wish, however, that a place called “Chipotle” had a salsa made with, you know, chipotles, as in smoked jalapeños and adobo.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. I remember as a kid, one of the local ice cream shoppes structured all their prices so the totals would come to round nickels after sales taxes were applied. Their menu had a nice little note of “Bye bye, pennies!” at the bottom.

    Of course, it was relatively easy in a place where sales taxes are 5%, maybe it would be harder in locales where they’re some oddball rate like 7.3%.

    • The thing is, though, they could simply list prices “after tax” and then deal with the math later.

      • Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s what they did now that you say that. I do recall it being not exactly kosher with some kind of state law regarding pricing practices (WI has/had a lot of oddball laws regarding how you have to communicate prices).

        • Most places I’ve seen that do that just tell you they’ve done it. There is usually a little note somewhere that prices include taxes.

          • That might vary from place to place, though. I know that back home a movie theater I once worked at made the transition from not-including to including sales tax and it was okay. There may be some places it’s not okay.

  2. They were better back when the burritos were like 5 bucks. Every location seemed to start out loadin em up, then adjust to giving you half a drip of meat. After getting one where the old amount of meat was considered Double, even after the price hikes resting currently near 7 fishing dollars (meaning to have a proper burrito costs 10 with tax)…never again.

    We have a mexican restaurant in town here that is great. Unfortunately they do not do the giant burrito. Nearest place that keeps it real on the burrito front is a half hour drive — and that’s when traffic cooperates. There badly needs to be a competitive market in Mission-style burritos nationwide.

    • I don’t know where you live, but in my neighborhood there’s a burrito “giant burrito” place that puts Chipotle’s to shame. It’s about $1 more than Chipotle, and worth every, ahem, penny .

      Don’t get me wrong; I like Chipotle. But this place is better.

      • Central MO here.

        Best of the chain ones I’ve had was Moe’s back in GA, and even that didn’t hold a candle to the place north of here.

        • Moe’s Southwest Grill? That’s pretty solid, but I’ll take Chipotle over it.

          If you’ve been to Boston and had Anna’s, the local chain… damn….

          • Dammit, why can’t I live in a place with a vibrant, varied local food culture?

            When I went on my BBQ tour of KC, I noticed especially downtown a bunch of other places carrying some of everything. My purpose for going was BBQ though, so I abstained from others. Eh…next time, I suppose.

        • Chipotle is a big step up from Moe’s IMHO, in general, Mexican food here in Atlanta is pretty poor.

          I remember a chain in my college town called La Bamba that had their motto as ‘Burrito’s as Big as Your Head!’ and they were not kidding. Looking back, it was not all that good – but at 2am most people aren’t in the market for quality.

  3. Burt-

    I’m going to say this the nicest way possibly because, generally speaking, I like you and consider you to be an otherwise sane, rational, thinking person…


    SRSLY… if you want chicken, just go eat some lettuce.

    • Pierre is right. You’re insulting the chicken to suggest it tastes like lettuce. There’s good flavor there: citrus and chili and garlic featured prominently amongst them.

      By all means, enjoy the carnitas, enjoy the barbacoa. But of the four meats available, I like the chicken the best.

      • Oh, the chicken is good. Everything there is good! But the barbacoa and carnitas are extraordinary!

        My joke was intended to imply that the gap between Chipotle’s barbacoa/carnitas and their chicken is equivalent to the gap between meat and lettuce.

        Also, am I the only person that doesn’t actually like the taste of chipotle peppers? Almost all of my experiences with them have been with “chipotle” sauces, which I always find to be too too smokey and not jalopenoey enough. Is that just a function of transmitting the taste into sauce? Are those just bad sauces? Enlighten me, because when I say that I don’t like chipotle peppers, people look at me like I have two heads.

        • Why is it so fishing hard for comment-handling software to close tags? You count begin and end tags, and, if need be, append additional end tags.. How many lines of code does that take, five?

          • It would have actually taken a bit more effort to root out the error involved in this one. There was a close tag, it was just muffed up*. Not that it couldn’t have been done, but it might have required someone in QA. Which, as we all know, no longer exists.

            * – <<i />>

            (I will note that I have now edited this comment twice. So much for my QA chops.)

          • Thanks, Will. That was my first attempt at using HTML. That’s how much I care about Chipotle. And I went and fished it all up… 🙁

            What did I do wrong? I thought I did exactly what you have there…

          • You did <<i />>

            that should be </i>

            Slash before the “i”, only one set of brackets (though, to be fair, you may have put only one set and it might have added the other because it was confused. I’ve seen it try to “correct” HTML before – it’s not a pretty sight).

          • Diagnosing that would have been hard. Adding a correct close tag, so the italics didn’t spill over the rest of the page, pretty straightforward.

          • Wait… forgetting to close the tag takes over the rest of the page? That seems like a major design flaw or something.

          • Kazzy, don’t give up on trying to code! Just remember that the slash goes before the close tag. <i></i> & <b> </b>

            And if you really want to get ambitious:
            <a href=””>Bastards!</a>

            Anyway, once you set a tag, it will keep doing it until you tell it to stop. So it does affect the rest of the site. That’s the way that streaming formatting works. As Mr. Schilling says, though, there are ways to compensate it. It is kind of surprising that WordPress doesn’t.

          • I’d settle for editing, so that I can

            any HTML

            fished up

        • I am not a fan of most jalapenos – mostly you get them pickled and one of my key food heresies is a strong distaste for most pickled things, the smoked versions are vastly superior in my estimation.

          But I am with you on Chipotle’s carnitas and barbacoa, they’re so much better there than what I can get at most burrito/taco chains that it seems like a huge waste to not eat them – I can get halfway decent chicken anywhere.

          Of course, it’s terribly inconvenient for me to get to a Chipotle at lunch, so it’s a rare treat for me to eat there. Those of you that live/work near one might balance this differently.

          • Hmmm…

            I don’t mind pickled things. I love fresh jalapenos, but most places slice them in the same rings as the pickled variety, which I think introduces too much heat in a single bite (the pickled varieties always seem milder). Ideally, a fresh jalapeno would be diced up so its heat could be properly distributed.

            I’ll need to find a legit chipotle pepper. I love smoked meats, so smoke isn’t an issue, but the sauces I’ve had have that almost vomity taste you get from something that rubs your throat raw.

    • A nice bit of evidence that it’s all a matter of taste, I guess. I find the carnitas absolutely flavorless, and I strongly prefer the barbacoa (which, as you say, is definitively the best thing Chipotle serves) or the steak if I’m feeling a little adventurous.

  4. Without beans, it’s just a “wrap”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  5. Couldn’t Chipotle have volunteered to donate the balance to charity? It probably would have gotten less objection if it were going to some non-controversial fund of some sort.

  6. Obviously, it’s not the pennies. It’s the cavalier attitude about my money and the fact that a lot of young fast food workers can’t do simple arithmetic, even when they have a computer for a cash register. All over the USA, otherwise good reastaurants now round off the change to the dollar amount that favors the restaurant. Some folks, like Likko, don’t care about small change. Some folks do care, but feel shamed into seeming “cheap”. In my case, I’m not cheap- I usually give really good tips. But, when the server takes the liberty of shorting me $.95, I tell him/her that I don’t like it and then simply reduce the tip by that amount.

    • I have never been to a restaurant that rounds off to the nearest dollar. That would get my goat. We’re talking about the nearest five cents.

      • I have, but they always were merely rounding down because they’d rather give me an extra nickel rather than go through and count out $0.95.

  7. One more tip on Chipotle… always ask for your burritos mixed. One thing they do poorly is the distribution of ingredients. Some bites are all rice, others all meat, and a few actually get the full compliment. But after adding your final accoutrement, ask the server-person to mix it. They’ll get everything good and mixed and it really makes a difference.

  8. Most recently, Cut 432 in Delray Beach, FL rounded my change down by more than $.50. We often see rounding to an even dollar amount in South Florida- usually in favor of the restaurant. You don’t see it in chain restaurants where the systems are standardized and the prices are usually lower. You also don’t see it when you use a crdit card; only for cash transactions.

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